WILMINGTON, MA — Incumbents Greg Bendel and Kevin Caira, and challengers Rob Fasulo, Mark Maselli, Dan Murphy, and Suzanne Sullivan, are running for TWO three-year seats on the Wilmington Board of Selectmen.
Wilmington Apple is asking the candidates multiple questions each week leading up to the April 27 Town Election.
The latest question:
Are there any articles on this year’s Annual Town Meeting Warrant (https://www.wilmingtonma.gov/sites/wilmingtonma/files/uploads/2019_atm_warrant.pdf) that you currently plan to vote against? If so, which articles and why? And what ONE article would you most wish to bring to the attention of voters and ask that they support?
Below are the candidates’ responses, in their own words:
The majority of articles listed are recommendations or requests for monies needed for town initiatives and I do not have issues with those and would not oppose them.
The one article I would like to bring to the attention of the voters and ask for their support is Article 42, referring to the Town’s requirements to meet all the state’s provisions regarding the 40B subsidized housing inventory. This has been dragging on much too long and our deadline to remedy this situation is quickly approaching. It is important to discuss this, get it out in the open and get a solid plan together before the State comes in and does it for us.
At present there are no articles on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant that I plan to vote against. I am awaiting surplus determinations from the Town Manager and recommendations from the Planning Board and Finance Committee on the four petitioned articles.
The one article that I would urge residents to support at Town Meeting is Article 41 relative to Inclusionary Zoning. Passage of this article would expand and diversify the Town’s housing stock, increase the supply of affordable housing and assist the Town in maintaining its 10% affordable housing inventory.
There really re no articles I feel particularly passionate about supporting other than the one to allow the gentleman to fulfill his desire to become a fire fighter. So I will feel good about voting YES on Article 43.
I plan on voting NO on Article 42 and unfortunately am against the Inclusionary by-law as written, unless amended. Very disappointed. I was one of the people that pressed the Planning Board to take it up after 15 years of no action on the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Plan, which I served. This is a giveaway to the developer. How could our town propose to do away with open space on multifamily/mixed use developments in a community that is so concerned with densities. That means lots with all building and parking with nothing to offset the impacts of the density. The plan developed by the Master Plan Committee, the Affordable Housing Plan, stressed to use innovative ideas to increase affordable housing while still “accommodating community concerns and preserving town character” (emphasis added- page 4)
This is what I am running on, the town not listening to the residents. We keep communicating that we are concerned about dense developments, that the town is over developing and losing its character. We keep asking for a different direction. People have participated in that process and still not being heard. The Main Street Market Study recommends “invest in projects to help small businesses, improve the curbside aesthetic of downtown areas, including landscaping and attractive sidewalks, and invest in art installations and historic building restoration,” basically the street scares idea.This by-law does the opposite by eliminating the open space requirement for a lot through the density bonus in Neighborhood Mixed Use districts, which was already at a measly 20% of lot area.
When the Master Plan was developed the idea was that everyone could agree to and compromise to mitigate negative impacts from density factors from developments. Developers wanted entity the people compromised and said ok but let’s mitigate. This proposed by-law blows all that out of the water and totally thumbs it nose to those compromises, those values and the community concerns.
It simply is not in harmony with the By-Laws of the Town. I will once again add the purpose of the by-laws to this answer. Hopefully all residents will become experts on it.
“1.2 Purpose -The purpose of this Bylaw is to implement the zoning powers granted to the Town of Wilmington under the Constitution and Statutes of the Commonwealth and includes, but is not limited to, the following objectives: to lessen congestion in the streets; to conserve health; to secure safety from fire, flood, panic and other dangers; to provide adequate light and air; to prevent overcrowding of land; to avoid undue concentration of population; to encourage housing for persons of all income levels; to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, supply, drainage, sewage disposal, schools, parks, open space and other public requirements; to conserve the value of land and buildings, including conservation of natural resources and the prevention of blight and pollution of the environment; to encourage the most appropriate use of all land and water resources throughout the Town including consideration of the recommendations of any special studies and master plans for the Town; to preserve and increase amenities; and to preserve and enhance the development of the natural, scenic and aesthetic qualities of the community.”
There are many important articles on this year’s Town Meeting Warrant. I encourage all residents to attend our annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 5th which will be held in the Joanne Benton Auditorium located within Wilmington High School. The Town Manger has determined that the proposed land in Article #46 is not surplus land and therefore should not be sold. I look forwarded to hearing more about the other petitioned articles from residents and having the opportunity to ask questions to the petitioners. I look forward to hearing the recommendations from the Finance Committee and the Planning Board on the petitioned articles as well. The article which I would encourage voters to support is our annual town budget which is Article #5. It is crucial that our town budget is passed so that we can continue to fund all of the services we provide to residents. Funding for our Police & Fire Departments, our School Department, DPW and all of our Human Services Departments depend on passage of Article #5.
To answer the question, I do not support Article 42 (Inclusionary Zoning) as written.
Inclusionary zoning was first recommended in late 2001 when the Master Plan was first released. Our town administrators allowed the problem of unchecked development to fester, and in 2010 when the town was compliant with 40B they still did nothing. Former Selectman Frank West went on record at many Board of Selectman meetings to ring the bell for Wilmington to adopt an Inclusionary bylaw and was continually brushed off.
Now we are on the heels of falling under the 10 percent affordable housing requirement which will open our neighborhoods up to 40B developments that do not need to abide by zoning ordinances. This means a developer can buy a plot of land next door to you and place a multi unit residential building and as long as it has 20-25 percent affordable units the town can do little to stop it. Properly written inclusionary language would have been a tool to help us when we were above 10 percent, it will not do anything for us at the present time as written.
During the process of coming up with this language that we see in this article public comment was solicited. Three issues were brought up. Mr. West asked for a 25% requirement because when you do the math what is required in the article it works out to be about 11%. I personally have done research on Inclusionary Zoning and I found a common requirement is 15%. Suzanne Sullivan and I both brought up the problem that the bylaw eliminates the requirement for open space and also allowing a developer to locate an affordable unit off property is ripe for abuse as it paves a road to a “low income neighborhood”.
Not one of these issues were addressed in the language presented giving the feeling that the public comments were nothing but a charade being played under the direction of the development community. A properly constructed Inclusionary Zoning bylaw would have started at a minimum of 15% affordable with a density bonus per acre, with a requirement that graduated as the project got larger ending up to 25%. It would have pertained to all new building projects not just new multi unit construction and it would not allow for offsite units in lieu of. Voting this language in at this point will not help the town as we are already under our 10 percent so it should be voted down and sent back to the drawing board to be written with language that benefits the residents.
The one article I would ask the residents to support is Article 43. When a resident has a dream to give back to a community, that community should allow an environment where that individual can realize that dream. Adam has worked hard to make his dream of becoming a firefighter a reality, his age should not become a hindrance. Please vote in support of this article.
An issue that our administration has recently been asked to consider, is a change in date of our Annual Town Meeting because of conflicts with other aspects of residents’ lives. I certainly hope that a change in scheduling of the meeting is done quickly because too many residents, such as myself this year are faced with the choice (or lack there of) of missing a child’s life event or attending town meeting. We need to encourage participation in Town Meeting and scheduling at a time when children are making communion, confirmation or another of life’s stepping stones does the opposite.
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